Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Elia's entry reminded me of this poem I first came across in a glossy Brown University Undergraduate Admisssions booklet almost a decade ago.

By Constantine P. Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Maybe that is why we still keep up with events back home despite having gotten out. We are the Singaporean Diaspora, and we know the downside of caring too much.


Elia Diodati said...

I must say, Cafavy suffers in translation... Eliot is by far more eloquent. ;-)

Quite a writing day I see...

takchek said...

Doesn't matter. As long as one gets the gist.

Joseph said...

Need some advice on scholarships, career options, attachments/internships and general stuff.

Could either one of you email me at lamerooze AT gmail DOT com ? (I couldn't find your email addresses at all !) Your kind assistance is much appreciated.